July 12th, 2008

Good Omens

The only bleeding was on the screen: Predator at the Bagdad

Predator was shot in Chiapas, Mexico. Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger was yelling “NOOOOOO, GET TO CHIAPAS!”

And on that note, the recap of KUFO’s Cort and Fatboy Late Night Movie showing of Predator begins! Finally a Late Night Movie happened on a warm night (wasn’t even the Top Gun screening last month a little on the cool side?), and so yesterday the Bagdad’s front lobby was open to the street along with the rest of the pub at the front. Cort and Fatboy were facing both the street and outdoor Bagdad diners as they broadcast from their remote studio setup. The diners who sat there for much of the show bought the DJs beer. They also talked to them (off air!) about a certain sex act that won’t get mentioned on-air. (But the 7/11/08 podcast does include off-air comments, should you feel brave enough to listen…)

I drove over after “The Screen Test with Mike Russell,” when Mike had critiqued both the new Journey to the Center of the Earth (his verdict: meh) and Hellboy II (his verdict: yeah!). I sat down for a while with Mike, his wife Gina, and David Walker, and we all shot the breeze. Walker is doing two jobs with young people right now, and one job is going happily well while the other has gone so badly he said he goes to “the bowels of Hell” when he reports for that work. We all commiserated. I know from bad jobs; I’m glad I know from good jobs. David’s good job is a class in comic book creation he’s teaching at PNCA; the students are learning about how to create characters. David has let them know he’s going to be caring and critical; he told them You’re going to write something and think it’s great, then you’re going to look back at it and decide it sucks. That’s OK. He got them to grasp that that means you’re learning and getting better, because then you revise your work to make it better. He also told us more about his own creative plans; I wish him luck on making them work. Mike suggested some ways to do the creative thing David wants to do. David’s written and directed films before (one of them’s called Uncle Tom’s Apartment) so we know he can do this; now we hope to see what he does next.

I also made Mike and David happy music fans by letting them borrow my rare CD of Lalo Schifrin’s full score to Enter the Dragon; Mike will make copies for them both. My film score-fu is strong! And David and Mike had a well-reasoned argument about the relative merits of Hellboy II; I encouraged David to bring up his thoughts on the film on the show. I’ll listen later to see if he did.

After the three of them finished up and got moving (David for his segment “The B-Movie Minefield” (also available on that podcast) and Mike and Gina for home), I floated over to the broadcast area. I visited with the DJs while they weren’t broadcasting and listened over their shoulders while they were. Fatboy’s new girlfriend was listening, too, and they were in that adorable phase of early couple-dom; yes, they are cute together. They told me how they’d met. “It was a real meet-cute,” she said. “If you’d seen it in a romantic comedy, it would’ve worked.” “I like hearing about hookups,” I said.

Cort saw me with my Van Dyke and said I looked rugged: “You should be cutting wood and slapping otters.” “I’d hug otters!” I protested. (I can’t imagine actually looking rugged.) The lot of us made each other laugh much, in between their radio segments and my wolfing down clam chowder and RC Cola. We’re on similar wavelengths; we like making each other laugh. I even was helpful, fetching Fatboy for a segment while he was passing out tater tots to people in line, and later pointing out the guy who arrived wearing a “Jesse Ventura: Retaliate in ’98” T-shirt. “That is righteous,” Fatboy said to him.

The screening was once again near-sellout – which I wasn’t sure about at first because when the theater opened early to let people in, there wasn’t a long line, but people kept showing up until near-sellout was achieved – and this show began with a contest. A man won a Cricket Wireless phone and a month of service with a game of Rock Paper Scissors! (Cricket, by the way, provided beer cups lined with a glowing liquid, the color of the Cricket logo and almost the color of the Predator blood. These cups were like bizarre footlights throughout the screening room. After the film was over I carried a cup in front of me, like a lantern, when I walked back to my car.) Cort and Fatboy announced the August late-night film (2001’s Super Troopers, which Fatboy’s never seen on the big screen and which I’ve yet to see at all) then treated us to trailers: the fake-exploitation-film trailer Hobo With a Shotgun and the 1985 Schwarzenegger flick Commando. Both got huge cheers. These trailers played properly this time, unlike before The Big Lebowski when the Bagdad’s DVD player stuttered.

The unexpected treat came next: the DJs had scared up a copy of the short film Batman: Dead End (Wikipedia entry explaining things here). The Batman is fighting the Joker when he’s confronted with another foe. A non-human foe. A non-human foe followed by another non-human foe (same as one that would appear in the film we were about to watch…) We in the audience were darkly amused by this aliens-in-Gotham mashup. I was slightly cranky that the bits of film score lifted for use in the short didn’t get credited, but then, I notice film music. (I heard music from Elliot Goldenthal’s score to Alien3, Shirley Walker’s score to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, James Horner’s score to Aliens, Danny Elfman’s score to Batman, and Alan Silvestri’s score to Predator. There. Now it’s noted somewhere.)

The Bagdad might as well have been pumping steroids through the air vents, ’cause the theater’s testosterone level went up immediately when Predator started. This is a man-muscle movie. (And you’re right, puppetmaker40; it plays like gangbusters on the big screen.) We cheered a lot, from the opening credits to the end credits; I cheered the late Kevin Peter Hall, who played the Predator, and Stan Winston, who designed it. Old-print issues aside, the film looked good; the 21-year-old special effects hold up, and wow, that’s a thick-looking jungle where they filmed, so that had to have been a challenge that they met well. Predator’s also insanely quotable, and we quoted plenty of it. (The quotes were better than the audience wisecracks, which were weak; later Fatboy said that Top Gun had had better comments from us.) Like the entire theater screaming “KHAAAAAAAAN!” at Star Trek II, the entire theater this time screamed “NOOOOOO, GET TO THE CHOPPER!” That’s a lot of the fun of these screenings: the screaming, like at a wrestling match, as we all get into each flick. It’s a chance to fist-pump and yell “Yes!” and maybe even throw devil horns when an especially righteous moment occurs. We mostly know how each film’s going to go, since a lot of fans show up to each (don’t know Predator? It’s summed up in this rap video!), and we can anticipate the cool moments: and anyone not familiar or as familiar with the flick can get carried on that wave of fannish glee at the cool moments as they happen. I hope someone from Dark Horse Comics, who publish Predator comic books (and who gave the world Aliens Vs. Predator), was at the screening to see the glee.

Next month’s film causes a different kind of glee: Super Troopers by the troop Broken Lizard (it was a toss-up between showing that and the team’s film Beerfest). And the lineup for the rest of the year’s Late Night Movies is already being created, but I can’t and won’t say what they are. But I’ll be at the Bagdad again when they happen.
iAm iSaid

Braggin' on myself (sometimes)

So the weekend grocery shopping is complete, with a bill of $61.07. That's after $28.08 in coupon savings.

A good chunk of that ($15.99) was for a two-for-one supplement deal, letting me stock up on Fish Oil and Flaxseed Oil for cheaper than usual (as my cousin Amy/Max said, "Supplements are expensive, but not as expensive as the doctor"), but after that it's still $12.09 I didn't have to spend.

I think I and the coupons did that well. Thanks, coupons! *shakes coupons' non-existent hands*

And in other news I'm glad to hear, the mileage on my '98 Honda Civic is averaging out to between 32 and 35 miles per gallon, as I'd hoped. (Calculators are good tools.)
  • Current Music
    Basil Poledouris's score to "For Love of the Game"
Whale fluke

The Life of Leonard Rosenman, Part Two

Catching up on my linking I'd meant to do earlier this week, Film Score Monthly presents the second part of its Leonard Rosenman retrospective:
It's very important for the composer to know what music can't do. I did a main title for a series that became a tremendous hit, The Defenders. The guy in charge, a very bright guy, said, "I'd like the music to express the law." I said, "Well, music can't express the law. It's not possible. If you want the music to express majesty or something like that, it will only express majesty if what you have on the screen is majestic."
  • Current Music
    still Basil
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Blow My Mind

Gonna Fly Now (Not as obvious as you'd think)

Film/film music thought:

The original Rocky is of course a very good, and mostly very quiet film, with famous moments of noise: boxing matches and yelling bouts and times when Bill Conti's score lets itself get loud. One time this happens is Rocky's dawn run through Philadelphia. Once I watched the DVD documentary on Rocky and noted how a lot of that was shot with just Sylvester Stallone, director John G. Avildson and the camera operator driving along in a van until they got to an interesting place to film, where Stallone would jump out and run and run and run, the van driving alongside and the camera poking out. Often in the final film, that running footage would be cut right before Stallone stopped running on that particular take.

Stallone mentioned how hard it could be to motivate himself to the necessary exertion on those runs. The not-so-obvious thought? He couldn't motivate himself with Bill Conti's famous theme from Rocky: it hadn't been written yet.

That strikes me every once in a while: realizing how a creative work didn't exist at one point, so we didn't yet have it as a reference. How many of us hum "Gonna Fly Now" when we're trying to get motivated? (And now I wonder if it was easier for Stallone to motivate himself to exertion for the training montages in Rockys Two through Six because "Gonna Fly Now" already was around...)

Not the deepest thought I've had, but why not share it?